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TLRH | Samuel Beckett’s Eleutheria: The Unstageable, but Unescapable, Zoon Politikon Condition

Monday, 22 February 2021, 10 – 11am

TLRH | Samuel Beckett’s Eleutheria: The Unstageable, but Unescapable, Zoon Politikon Condition

A research presentation by Céline Thobois (Department of Drama) as part of the School of Creative Arts Research Forum (SCARF) in association with Trinity Long Room Hub.

From Waiting for Godot (1952) to What Where (1983), Samuel Beckett’s drama relentlessly puts the human condition to the test of the stage and other media such as radio or television. Scholars have shown, since the onset of Beckett Studies, that the question of “what it means to be human” recurs in various forms across the oeuvre: metaphysical, ontological, phenomenological, historical, and even biological. In Beckett’s first full-length play, Eleutheria (1947) – the Greek word for freedom – the “thorny question” that troubles the Krap and Piouk families is “the problem of humanity” or the “situation of the human species.” Through textual analysis of Beckett’s play, I will demonstrate how the question of the human is presented as inextricable from that of the environment, demanding a radical reassessment of freedom as an authoritative attribute of the human species. In Eleutheria, it is primarily the social environment which is under scrutiny, and therefore, the Zoon Politikon. I will argue, after Dougald McMillan and Martha Fehsenfeld, that Beckett’s aborted dismantling of the human condition, and simultaneously of theatrical conventions with Eleutheria, stands in Beckett’s dramatic oeuvre as a crucial step in the “clear[ing] of the stage” before the emergence of Beckett’s revolutionary approach to drama as an experimental posthuman environment in constant transition. My reading of Eleutheria, through a combination of Aristotelian philosophy and posthuman theories, reveals how the play fully partakes in Beckett’s complex thinking of the human-environment continuum, which makes Beckett’s legacy a powerful material for contemporary readers, teachers, students, artists and spectators in the context of the Anthropocene.
Céline Thobois is an IRC-funded PhD student in the Department of Drama at Trinity College Dublin. After two years of Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Écoles in Clermont-Ferrand (France), she obtained a B.A. in English Studies and an M.A. in Anglo-Irish Studies from Lille III University (France). Her current research, supervised by Prof Nicholas Johnson, is looking at the relationships between the human, technology and the environment in Samuel Beckett’s drama through the prisms of behaviourism and neuroscience. She has developed an interest in thinking creatively about new ways of reading and performing Beckett’s oeuvre in the twenty-first century, particularly in the context of the Anthropocene. Céline has worked as an assistant dramaturg, voice coach and French translator with Dead Centre on Beckett’s Room (Gate Theatre, 2019), and as dramaturg and French translator with Pan Pan Theatre and the Beckett Laboratory on Before Endgame (online broadcast, 2020). She has published in Samuel Beckett Today / Aujourd'hui and she is also a contributor of The Beckett Circle. Céline is a co-convener of the Samuel Beckett Reading Group at the Trinity Centre for Beckett Studies and a co-organiser of the Beckett Brunch in Dublin.

The School of Creative Arts Research Forum meets fortnightly at 10am on Mondays during term and is led by the School's doctoral students. The aim of the Forum is to give a space for School researchers, both staff and postgraduate students, to share their ideas in a supportive environment. It is also an opportunity for the School to hear about the research of colleagues both from within TCD and outside who share our research interests. In line with the research agenda of the School, talks will encompass traditional research and practice-based research and will be followed by Q&A.

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Campus Location: Online
Accessibility: N/A
Room: Online
Research Theme: Creative Arts Practice
Event Category: Arts and Culture, Lectures and Seminars
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Undergrad, Postgrad, Faculty & Staff, Public
Cost: Free but registration is required

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